Laura Mulvey – Out of date and irrelevant?

In the text Visual pleasure and narrative cinema Laura Mulvey discusses how in cinema women are presented just for male entertainment. They are there to be “looked at and displayed” and have “not the slightest importance.” I am disagreeing with this view of women and am here to mention how it is completely out of date.

Although I will predominantly look at women in horror there is a lot to be said about the male gaze that has adapted in other aspects of film, one of the most obvious is the Female gaze. Now it is not only men that are lusting over the screen, it is women too. Jake Pitre (2014) brings this to our attention by stating “Magic Mike features plenty of man meat presumably intended for a female (or homosexual) gaze.” This is a statement that is very true to modern media. True Blood has also featured this female gaze along with the The Twilight saga: Eclipse by showing shirtless men for no apparent reason, men are now being objectified similarly to women. This could be due to women’s sexuality no longer being a taboo or simply tit for tat however it doesn’t seem to answer much about the adaption of the male gaze itself other than the equality of sexuality on screen.

Jake Pitre (2014) also states “More recently, films like Jonathan Glazer’s mesmerizing Under the Skin aim to take the male gaze and spit it back at the audience.” This second adaption of gazing brings the attention that the audience is now more than aware of the gaze, and it is sometimes in modern film used to add to the characters story arc. For example I spit on your grave follows a rape revenge story arc, although the woman is looked at and abused sexually the audience soon discovers that she is more than able to take fate in her own hand and punish for the wrong doings. This may cause the audience to feel a sort of subconscious guilt for looking at her in a similar way. This action of revenge also proves that Mulvey’s use of the woman being “the barer of meaning, not maker of meaning.” Is completely wrong.

Another thing to mention is although the camera is focusing on the woman it is more likely to be focusing on what she is doing rather than her as an object. Kyle Turner (2014) states “the Male Persona that inhabits the camera, that is the camera might have underestimated the women in the film.” In the film Halloween Laurie is trapped in a wardrobe while the brutal killer is trying to enter. We as an audience focus on her actions as she wields nothing more than a coat hanger to get away; not only does this show her fight to survive but also her intelligence to craft something into a weapon. Again this intelligence defeats Mulvey’s principle of being simply “displayed for the gaze and enjoyment of men” by being displayed as a fighter and an aspiration of women.

To conclude Mulvey’s opinion is clearly out dated, we now are watching films that women are the hero rather than having “not the slightest importance.” The horror genre itself is teaming with amazing female hero’s as David Stevens (2012) states “There are more ballsy/strong/vivacious ladies and female action stars, in horror related movies than any other genre.”

Reference list

Halloween (1978) Directed by John Carpenter. [Film] USA: Compass International Pictures

 I spit on your grave (1978) Directed by Mier Zarchi. [Film] USA: Cinemagic

Mulvey, L. (1975) Visual pleasure and narrative cinema, pp. 6-18. Available at: (Accessed: 24 November 2015)

Pitre, J. (2014) ‘The male gaze has outlived it’s usefulness’ Movie Mezzanine, 3 July. Available at: (Accessed: 24 November 2015)

Stevens, D. (2012) ‘Kick ass horror heroines’ You’ve got red on you. Available at:!kick-ass-horror-heroines/cdml (Accessed: 24 November 2015)

True Blood (2008-2014) Created by Alan Ball. [TV] USA: HBO

Turner, K. (2014) ‘Gazed at and confused: The transformation of the male gaze in contemporary cinema’ I like things that look like mistakes, 2 July. Available at: (Accessed: 24 November 2015)

The Twilight saga: Eclipse (2010) Directed by David Slade. [DVD] UK: E1 Entertainment

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 15.46.22

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